Monday, 16 May 2011


“I have seen that technology has contributed to improved communication, that it’s contributed to better health care, that it’s contributed to better food supplies, that it has contributed to all the basic human needs.” - John Warnock

Today is the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union. The day has been marked as the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD), the purpose of which is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.

The theme for this year’s, World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is “Better life in rural communities with ICTs”, which was adopted by ITU Council in 2009 and follows up on the theme for 2010: “Better city, better life with ICTs”.  ICTs are increasingly in demand to meet the Millennium Development Goals. In the rural context, ICTs provide enhanced opportunities to generate income and combat poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy.

Half of the world’s population lives in rural districts and far-flung communities. These three billion people represent the poorer, less educated, and more deprived people of the world. As many as 70 per cent of the developing world’s 1.4 billion extremely poor people live in rural areas. They are also among the least connected to the benefits of ICTs. It is no surprise that their poverty, ill health and illiteracy are connected to a lack of ICTs.

The Internet began in 1969 as a small though initially costly project backed by the United States Government. It was then called the ARPANET because the agency that developed the system was called the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). The original network began with four users. By 1994, the Internet had 4 million hosts.  By September 2009 there were 1.73 billion Internet users worldwide, with 1.4 billion e-mail users worldwide, and on average they collectively sent 247 billion e-mails per day. Unfortunately 200 billion of those were spam e-mails! As of December 2009, there were 234 million websites. It is estimated that in May 2011, the estimated number of unique individuals who will use the Internet, in all countries combined, is 2.06 billion.

Most people find it impossible to imagine their daily lives without the internet, as in recent years, the internet has become an integral part of our existence. We use it to communicate, to search for information, to interact socially through networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. It is hard to imagine a world without the internet as a means of doing business, or without using the net in education and in entertainment.

Its combination with other means of telecommunication is changing the way we utilise other ICT technology. The use of the Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol is altering we use landlines and most mobile smartphones now, are in many cases used to access the internet more than they are to talk on! Someone asked me for my fax number the other day and I had to restrain myself from laughing – obviously someone was still using that dinosaur! Is there such a thing as a telegram anymore? Do kids nowadays know what the Morse code is? When was the last time you took a piece of paper and actually wrote a letter to someone?

It’s a brave new world of ICTs out there and we have to work harder in making it accessible to those people who do not use it at the present time and those who wish to and cannot.


  1. Hello Nicholas:
    The Internet is, as most things, both a blessing and a curse but life without it now would indeed be significantly different.

    It is so easy once one gets beyond a certain age to be reluctant to keep up with technological change, but that does mean one is in danger of losing out.

  2. Wowwww!!!!!! I woudl be so totally lost without the net!!!!
    Hard to imagine life without it now.....

  3. The internet has made the world a very different place and some of it is for good, some for bad. Just like any other invention, it can be used fro good or evil.